How Do Weather, Insects, and Diseases Impact Forests? It Depends

Forests of the southern U.S. are among the most productive and intensively managed in the world. Disturbances naturally alter forest stands, sometimes creating conditions that benefit plant or animal communities, but can cause major economic losses to landowners. What’s more, the impacts from one disturbance may invite other disturbances – dead and damaged trees can…  More 

Top Ten of 2020

As 2020 comes to an end, it is a good time to gather our most-read CompassLive stories from the past year. Each one highlights the work of USDA Forest Service scientists at the Southern Research Station. We hope you enjoy reading this collection, which includes the most popular of 2020 plus a few more that…  More 

New Science Synthesis on Soils and Soil Management

We don’t often think about what’s underneath our feet, but soils are essential for the food we eat, building materials for our homes, the clean water we drink, storing carbon and mitigating climate change, even the air we breathe. Our health and well-being depend on healthy soils. It may be time to take a closer…  More 

Dead Wood, Insects, and Fire

Dead wood is a secret harbor of biodiversity. About one-third of all insect species are saproxylic – or dependent upon dead wood – at some stage in their life cycle. The effects of common forest management practices on this important resource and the insects that use it are understudied, especially in subtropical climates. USDA Forest…  More 

Site Prep Tractors and Their Potential for Prescribed Fire

Site preparation (site prep) tractors are large-wheeled machines with mulcher head attachments. These machines can turn shrubs and small trees into wood chips and chunks. They are often used to control vegetation before a prescribed fire, improve wildlife habitat, or as a replacement for fire where the risk is too high. If site prep tractors…  More 

Scientists Share Knowledge on Sustaining Oak at Symposium

For the first time since 2002, scientists and land managers met to share knowledge on sustaining and conserving oak forests in the eastern U.S. The oak symposium was held October 2017 in Knoxville, Tennessee and hosted by The University of Tennessee Department of Forestry, Wildlife, and Fisheries. The meeting featured 33 invited speakers, an audience…  More 

Hill Demonstration Forest Joins Experimental Forest Network

The USDA Forest Service Southern Research Station and the North Carolina State University College of Natural Resources recently signed an agreement adding NC State’s Hill Demonstration Forest to the SRS Experimental Forest Network. The Hill Demonstration Forest covers more than 2,600 acres in the Carolina Slate Belt and has a variety of forest types and…  More 

Photo Guide to Fuel Loads in the Southern Appalachians

A new photo guide shows fuel loads in the Southern Appalachian mountains. A team of four experts wrote the guide: Adam Coates, a professor at Virginia Tech; Tom Waldrop, a USDA Forest Service research forester who is now retired; Todd Hutchinson, a research ecologist at the Northern Research Station; and Helen Mohr, an SRS forester…  More 

Upland Hardwood Silvicultural Workshop Goes Virtual

In July, state forest agencies, National Forest System managers, and others convened digitally for the Upland Hardwood Silvicultural Workshop. The virtual workshop, organized by the USDA Forest Service Upland Hardwood Ecology and Management Research Work Unit, consisted of half-day sessions in which natural resource practitioners learned the most up-to-date hardwood forest management practices based on…  More 

The Southern Pine Module Goes Virtual

In 2019, Janet Hinchee, the USDA Forest Service Regional Silviculturist for the South invited me to coordinate the Southern Pine Module, a ten day workshop for the Forest Service National Advanced Silviculture Program. The workshop is a key element of the agency’s program for National Forest land managers, especially district silviculturists, to obtain required silvicultural…  More